Blog chevron right How-to Guides

How Should You Transcribe Numbers?

Andrew Russo
Andrew Russo
Posted in Zoom Nov 19 · 20 Nov, 2023
How Should You Transcribe Numbers?

How Should You Transcribe Numbers?

Transcribing numbers can pose a challenge, especially if you're new to it or are still mastering the process. You may often find yourself questioning the correct way to transcribe a number. Thus, comprehension of the basics can save you hours when transforming spoken content into its written equivalent. Consequently, this article will guide you through the fundamentals of transcribing numbers, the rules, common challenges encountered, and suggestions for transcribing dates, times, and currencies.

The Basics of Transcribing Numbers in Audio Recordings

Transcribing numbers in audio recordings demands precise attention to catch accurate information. Listen attentively to determine writing numbers in words or figures. Typically, you should write numbers under ten in words. If the speaker says "five," transcribe it as "five." Use digits for numbers ten and above; transcribe "15" as "15".

Rules for Writing Out Numbers in Transcriptions

There are general rules you should adhere to when transcribing numbers. Consider the following ones:

· Use numerals for percentages.

· When two numbers are juxtaposed, write one as a numeral. For instance, "Three 8-hour shifts."

· Writer numbers from one to nine in words, while any number ten and above should go in digits.

· Employ numerals for ages, measurements, and statistically relevant information. Transcribe "The tree was 15 feet tall", "The patient is 45 years old", and "Our team won the game 3-0" as is.

Common Challenges When Transcribing Numbers

Transcribing numbers can pose various difficulties, especially when transcribing content from different languages or contexts. Among these challenges, you can expect:

· Spelling vs. Numerals: Depending on the style guide or context, you may need to transcribe numbers in written format (e.g., "five") or numerically (e.g., "5"), thus adding complexity.

· Unclear Pronunciation: Poor pronunciation or a strong accent can make understanding the numbers in the recording harder. Low-quality audio recording can exacerbate this issue.

· Homophones: Words that sound the same but have different meanings (e.g., "four" and "for," "two," "too," and "to") can confuse transcribers.

· Different Numbering Systems: Multiple numbering systems exist worldwide. For example, the Indian system uses lakhs and crores, while the international system uses millions and billions. This aspect can lead to inaccuracies during transcription.

· Decimal and Comma Usage: The way people use commas and decimal points varies between countries. In the U.S.A., "1,000.00" represents one thousand, while "1.000,00" means the same in many European countries.

· Transcribing Dates: Date formats can present a challenge due to their variations. Some countries use the day-month-year form (31/12/2022), while others use the month-day-year version (12/31/2022).

· Currency Conversion: Frequently, it is necessary to convert currency figures during transcription. Fluctuating currency rates can add an extra level of difficulty.

Tips for Transcribing Dates, Times, and Currencies

Transcribing dates, times, and currencies can be tricky due to variations in formats, time zones, and currency rates. Thus, consider these suggestions.

· Dates

Consistency is vital, so stick to the same format throughout your transcript. The chosen format may depend on the audience's standard system. To remove ambiguity, use words for the month instead of numbers.

· Times

Using a 24-hour format can reduce confusion during time transcription. Specifying the time zone is also important when working with international content or a global audience.

· Currencies

Specify the currency when referring to monetary values during currency transcription. Including the currency symbol or code before the amount ensures comprehension of the correct monetary units. Finally, don't forget to maintain consistency.

Best Practices for Transcribing Numbers in Legal and Medical Documents

Certain practices exist to help you effectively write numbers in legal and medical transcription. Consider the ones outlined below:

· Follow the House Style or Specific Guidelines

Always familiarize yourself with the house style guide or the specific guidelines provided by the client before starting any transcription work. Adhere to the recommended format for numbers and other numerical information.

· Cardinal vs. Ordinal Numbers

Cardinal numbers (for quantity) are spelled out from one to nine and written as numerals from 10 and above. For ordinal numbers (for order), use a mix of text and numerals, like 1st, 2nd, 3rd.

· Time

Use the recommended format when transcribing time and always include a.m. or p.m. to avoid confusion.

· Units of Measure

When transcribing units of measure, use abbreviations and ensure they are consistent throughout the document.

· Telephone Numbers

Follow an accepted format for these. Generally, use dashes or spaces to separate the numbers for clarity. For instance, (123) 456-7890 or +1 123 456 7890.


Ensure accurate transcription of numbers for clear communication. Get accustomed to the rules, and they will become instinctive over time. Practice will heighten your transcription skills to a professional level. Contact for more professional transcription services.